Encounter and Reflect: Find a quiet place to spend time with God, listening to or reading John 10:10 in The Passion Translation and the account of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Begin to think about what abundant life looks like to you in every day life and how does Jesus describe it. How is serving others connected to abundant life?
God is calling Eden Church to offer the world a vibrant, welcoming community. And God calls us to dedicate this community not only to receiving God’s care, but also to offering care to one another, as well as to neighbors near in our city and across the globe. A compassionate community – that is true “abundant life.”
But there is one more step. Abundance isn’t genuine abundance unless and until it is shared by all. Every child of God deserves the opportunity to enjoy the gifts of abundant life (including the gift of sharing it with others!) – and so our congregation is devoted not only to community and compassion, but also to God’s justice and love.
The justice and kindness declared by the ancient prophets (Micah 6:8; Amos 5:22-24) and by more contemporary prophets like Martin Luther King Jr. The love declared by Jesus as the “greatest” commandment of all: to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40).
Our neighbors! And not only Christian neighbors: in Jesus’ “good shepherd” teaching (indeed just a few verses after he casts his mission as providing “abundant life”), he goes out of his way to warn us against exclusionary presumptions: “I have other sheep,” he says, “that do not belong to this fold” (John 10:16). We dare not put limits – religious or otherwise – on God’s justice, love, and care.
We are looking forward to this Sunday, August 27th, as we launch into a new ministry year with the Holy Spirit inspired focus of Abundant Life. Jesus in revealing himself as the One who wants goodness for our lives tells us in John 10:10 that we have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect - life in its fullness until you overflow!
So we are overflowing. We are BLESSed to be a BLESSing in our city and we continue living into God’s beautiful ways as His story is being written through our lives. Eden Church is a Welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging others to join us.
We think it’s also no accident that August 27th is also Share the Dream Sunday, when churches across the nation will commemorate the most important American speech of the last 100 years given by Dr. Martin Luther King. Jeffrey Wright wrote in a recent article in Preaching Today,
"King followed the example of Christ set forth in Philippians 2:7–8, taking on the role of a servant, humbling himself and becoming obedient to the possibility of death, even death by assassination. His sacrificial death on April 4, 1968—which he prophetically spoke of on the night before he was murdered—stands as possibly the greatest example of ministry service in our nation’s history. In his sermon recalling the Good Samaritan story that night before he died, he challenged all of us to “develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.” A man who could have simply followed his father to a famous pulpit, and a life of middle-class comfort in a city where the path had already been laid, chose to live a life of servanthood for the poor and sacrifice for all.”
So Let’s “Share the Dream” together as a community of people intent on serving our families, community and city to see the Kingdom of God’s goodness transform each and every life. Grateful for our ministry leaders and thankful to the many organizations we are partnering with to see this come to pass and appreciate you accepting our invitation to come and be present as we commit our lives to serve with a “dangerous unselfishness.”
Much thanks and appreciation to Pastor Keith O'Neal of Destiny Christian Center International who took the time to share in a video conversation with me how God is transforming lives through Destiny and making an impact in our city. Be sure to watch it. We're so grateful for Christ's church and the call of God to collaborate with other churches to see God's Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven! Thank you Bishop O'Neal
Spiritual Practice: In this new ministry year not only are we pledging our generosity to see all of our ministries fully funded but we are pledging our prayers for ministry leaders and volunteers and all who they are loving in Jesus name. Make it a practice to pray over the Eden Weekly each week, the ministries and activities and for our partner organizations. Go to their tables this Sunday and write your name on their thank you card as a beginning!
Gather: Commit your small group to serving an iServe event together this year. Make it a time of fellowship and service as you together develop a dangerous unselfishness! Experience abundant life!